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This BLT pasta salad is an easy lunch all summer long and a new favorite for backyard barbeques! It comes together in a snap (yes, even with the bacon - I have a secret to share with you!), and manages to combine the familiar comfort of a BLT sandwich with a tangy balsamic dressing - that doesn't have any mayonnaise or ranch - and perfectly al dente pasta!!
You Will Love This
You really can’t go wrong with the savory, sweet, fresh flavors of a BLT and now we’re bringing it to the people in a pasta salad with no mayo or ranch—just a creamy, homemade dressing and a tang of balsamic. Need more BLT dinners in your life? Don’t miss this BLT Puff Pastry Tart!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Pasta - Rotini pasta is a classic choice for cold pasta salad, but you can use penne or farfalle (bowties) or whatever you like best.
- Crispy Bacon - Did you know there’s a better way to get crispy bacon crumbles than standing over a hot stove and getting burned by flying hot oil? I give you: baking bacon.
- Grape Tomatoes - It’s literally not a BLT without the T. Grape tomatoes are fun size and meaty enough to add the perfect T to this pasta salad!
- Romaine or Arugula - Arugula has a zesty, peppery flavor. Romaine is milder in flavor but has a better crunch.
- Homemade Croutons - Croutons are the toast in our BLT pasta salad recipe, plus everyone loves croutons. In fact, probably the only thing people love more than croutons is homemade herby garlic croutons.
- Red/Green Onion - Every pasta salad needs an onion, this one gets two! Raw red onion packs an assertive flavor and crunch. Green onions are a fresh garnish after the sauce.
- Sour Cream - Sour cream is the base for this creamy dressing, so I recommend getting a good organic, full-fat sour cream.
- Milk - Milk is going to thin the dressing so it can evenly coat every nook and cranny of your pasta. I find that 2% works best, but you can substitute whatever kind of milk you have.
- Olive Oil - I like a good, organic, cold-pressed olive oil for its rich, deep flavors—especially when it’s going in a dressing to be eaten raw.
- Balsamic Vinegar - Balsamic vinegar is the key to this dressing. It adds the perfect tang and depth of flavor without being overpowering.
- Dijon Mustard - Dijon mustard gives this dressing a bit of an unexpected (but delightful) tang. If Dijon isn’t your thing, you can use yellow mustard instead.
- Fresh Dill - A touch of fresh dill meets the mustard tang but with a fresh, green flavor. You can use dried dill if you need to, but remember to reduce the amount to about ⅔ of a teaspoon instead of 2 teaspoons.
- Garlic Powder - Zesty garlic is the finishing touch in this dressing, and powdered garlic just blends in more than minced fresh garlic.
Add cooled pasta, crumbled bacon, tomatoes, greens, croutons, red onion, and green onion to a large bowl.
Drizzle dressing over pasta salad and gently toss to coat.
Garnish with sliced green onion and enjoy!
- Adjust the dressing ingredients to suit your taste. I like to add a couple extra splashes of balsamic vinegar because I like a more acidic dressing. Sometimes I'll add extra fresh dill if I have some on hand as well!
- This pasta salad tastes best when eaten fresh! As we all know, croutons get soggy when they sit in a salad and even the bacon loses a bit of its crunch when it's tossed in dressing. If you want to make this pasta salad ahead of time, wait to add the crispy croutons and crumbled bacon until just before serving to preserve their integrity!
NO! Do not rinse pasta for a cold pasta salad. Rinsing pasta removes that delicious starchiness that helps the dressing coat every noodle. Just toss the cooked pasta in olive oil and pop it in the fridge to cool.
Any short cut of pasta is great for a pasta salad, but especially those with ridges, curves, and coils. Texture and crevices on the noodles hold onto dressing, sauces, and herbs. Rotini, penne, rigatoni, and farfalle are some of my favorites!
Every pasta salad will have a slightly different timeframe for serving. Some like to sit in the fridge for a few hours, while others - like this BLT pasta salad - should be served ASAP. If you're not sure, consider your ingredients: if some of the ingredients are meant to be crisp and fresh (fresh greens, croutons, crunchy red onions, bacon, etc.) then you want to serve it before those elements get soggy.
Most pasta salads will last for 5-7 days in the fridge, as long as they are stored soon after serving. If your pasta salad has crunchy elements like croutons or bacon, however, keep in mind that those are going to get soggy pretty quickly. If you're planning to enjoy a pasta salad throughout the week, just add half the dressing initially. Then add a quick pour of dressing just before eating to keep the flavors fresh!
Pasta Salad Favorites
- Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad
- Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe
- Creamy Avocado Southwest Pasta Salad
- Creamy Vegan Cucumber Salad
- Greek Chickpea Pasta Salad